Chrome on Mac with Shareholic & Zemanta

As I was exploring extensions on Chrome, I foud two new services that will restart my blogging. Being a collector of any tools that make my productivity increase, I am hoping these two extensions will enable me to blog easily and enhance my content.
Image representing Shareaholic as depicted in ...
Image via CrunchBase

Shareholic is a tool for people who are addicted to sharing the content they found on web through pretty much any communication channel. The list of services they support is quite long but it was pretty easy to customize which ones you want to use. I think just the fact that I’m posting something right now should prove Shareholic’s usefulness.

The second extension is called Zemanta. To be honest, I am skeptical of the quality of its recommendations. I’m hopeful to be proven wrong.

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Recap from Product Camp Boston

With some randomness and last minute luck, I made it out to Product Camp Boston on Feb 28.  The gracious hosts at the Microsoft Research Labs gave us this amazing venue for Boston Product Management professionals to learn, to teach, to network and just simply enjoy each other’s company.  Check out the Flickr group to see pictures.
The organizers led by  C Todd Lombardo did an amazing job with the event and I am grateful for all their hard work. I figured I should note down the books, tools and links that were flying around during the event for posterity sake.

Tools and Web Sites Mentioned

Over the web usability testing tool : Userfly

I recommended this web based usability testing tool to a few people citing the virtues : a) easy to set up, b) cheap and c) convenient for remote users. I think the easiest way to see how Userfly works is playing with the demo they put up.Check out their site

Product Innovation Through Playing Games : InnovationGames

This site was recommended by the session leader of  Product Innovation Session. It appears to be a  collection of interactive techniques/games you play to ultimately define your product’s future vision.  The site and concept are based off of the book with the same name.

Book Recommendations

Bob Levy who led the session Requirements Management Best Practices recommended these two books for building relationships among different teams.
In my User Experience Session, folks were asking what books they should read to get the basics of User Interface Design and I recommended Steve Krug’s book : Don’t Make Me Think.

Dont Make Me Think book cover

Here are a few more books you can read if you are completely new to this subject and you’d like to get more into it.

  • If you really want to get into the details, try About Face 3.

About Face Cover

At the Innovation session, I mentioned this awesome little book called Why Not? by Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayres. (Side note: these guys are  the guiding forces behind Stickk, another one of my favorite sites.)

If you were at ProductCamp Boston and have anything to add, please let me know in the comments!


Tool Box : Balsamiq — post by Perfect Tuna

I tried out this tool after reading Samantha LeVan’s post.  It’s super fast and all the alignment just happens. $79 is totally worth the money.  I plan to write my own review post on the tool soon.

I’m always looking for new ways to sketch and wireframe my GUI ideas, searching for something quicker than hand drawing and less refined than Visio and Illustrator. My rule for the perfect tool is that it has to be super fast to learn and quick to produce results.

Googling wireframing tools, I came across Balsamiq’s website. What captured my attention was the fun appearance of the GUI and the statement that “life’s too short for bad software”. That’s a pretty bold statement to make so I had to try this tool out immediately. Super psyched that I could run it on both my work PC and my home Mac, I installed it and had it running within minutes.

I fell in love with this software immediately.

Why Balsamic Mockups is fantastic:

  1. It doesn’t require much learning time. Drag-and-drop interactions are intuitive and consistent.
  2. Work feels fun. I felt like I was sketching ideas and playing, rather than feeling like tasks are tedious and repetitive. The grunt work is done for me.
  3. The primary GUI widgets are included. Containers for both web and software applications are included.
  4. The elements are sketchy. In this I mean my wireframes really do look malleable and editable. It is clear that at this stage, a project can be critiqued and changed easily. This is sometimes hard to communicate with more refined wireframes and mockups. The focus is on the layout, not the visual design.
  5. Having all the widgets in front of me helped drive me to some creative solutions my first try. Interaction methods I hadn’t considered were sitting right in front of my eyes inspiring innovative solutions.

I believe my biggest reason for supporting Balsamiq’s software is that it feels like a tool designed for users. As a usability analyst, I am a firm believer that software must be designed based on research and this tool feels like a company invested in user research. I see this in the little details – the notebook background that gives a sense of drawing in a sketch pad and the awareness of the common GUI elements that designers are looking for.

Of course, there’s always the one big block to many designers looking for a new application – cost. This one’s really reasonable, just $79. There’s no excuse not to try it as the demo is free. I honestly believe you’ll be hooked if you just try it once.

Posted bySamantha LeVan
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Tool Box: Webware – Feed Rinse

This Webware coverage of  Feed Rinse caught my ever searching eyes for the best tools to improve my digital life. Google Reader is a huge part of my digital life and tools that will make it even more useful are at the top of my list.

Here’s an oldie but a goodie. Feed Rinse is a super simple and user-friendly way to tweak RSS feeds before subscribing to them in your favorite reader tool.

With it you can pick which authors or keywords you want to exclude, giving you complete control over what ends up filling your feed reader. For example, on Webware’s RSS feed you could very quickly choose to only get posts about Google (which is possible on our main site using tags), or a handful of keywords at the same time.

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